Banyan Histories


Meenakshi Chakraverti founded Banyan Histories in March 2000. The company provides personal history services, with a particular focus on researched and customized oral histories. The purpose of Banyan Histories is to help individuals and families see and record the multiple roots of their social and cognitive selves. Oral histories, archival records and genealogies are the three important sources of recorded personal history. Banyan Histories draws on Ms. Chakravertiís research and life-history-taking skills as an anthropologist to offer very high quality oral-history-taking and writing. Oral histories enable us to record voices, idioms, events and stories that have made us who we are. At Banyan Histories, we seek to place the minute, the whimsical and the personal into the structural and social context such that the individual and the society in which s/he lives are both illuminated.


About Meenakshi Chakraverti:


Ms. Chakraverti is an anthropologist with an undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and graduate degrees from Princeton and Cornell Universities. An ethnic Bengali, she was born and brought up in India where she learned the value of oral history through the stories her mother and older relatives would tell about family successes, feuds, intrigues, romances, as well as migration motives and patterns (her relatives live in many different parts of northern India), small and large effects of technological changes, insignificant and important participation in political movements including the movement towards independence from the British Raj. Stories helped instill in her a syncretic family culture in which extremely Westernized practices and attitudes coexist with traditional practices and Hindu holism. Ms. Chakraverti majored in political science at Wellesley College, concentrated in economics at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University and is obtaining a doctoral degree in social anthropology from Cornell University. She has traveled extensively throughout India and has lived in France where she did her doctoral fieldwork. Married to a German physicist, she has visited Germany many times. She speaks Hindi, Bengali and French in addition to English.


Services and rates:


The primary service provided is oral-history taking and writing. An oral history project involves initial research, interviews, transcription, and editing. Research and editing may both be done to different degrees, depending on the requirements of the client. The minimal product is a set of transcribed and annotated interviews along with a simple genealogy. More elaborate histories may include introductions and information paraphrased and organized thematically or chronologically. The final product will be printed on archival paper and bound. Photographs will be inserted professionally upon request. If necessary, Banyan Histories will organize complementary archival research and detailed genealogy. Other optional features are multi-media recording and presentation of information. On the basis of a free preliminary phone consultation, Banyan Histories will provide a project proposal with an estimate of costs.


Contact information:


Meenakshi Chakraverti

Banyan Histories

803 N. Tioga St.

Ithaca, NY 14850


Phone: 607 277 8780

Fax: 801 459 5599


Note: Ms. Chakraverti will travel in a reasonably economical fashion to interview non-local subjects and will charge the client for travel, lodging and per diem. Normally, the interviewing for a standard oral history can be done over two days with a stay over one night. This could be done on weekends to obtain Saturday-night-stay cheapest fares. Banyan Histories is relocating to Boston in July 2000.